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Following in the ambient footsteps of Eno’s inaugural iPhone app, Bloom, comes RjDj. Developed by Reality Jockey, an Austrian dev outfit, they describe RjDj as, “the next generation of walkman or mp3 player… a digital drug which causes mind twisting hearing sensation.”
Wrapped up as a cute little iPhone toybox, RjDj is actually a platform for Reactive Sound Art. The “reactive” bit means that the app responds to sensory input. In the case of RjDj, this could find you jiggling, touching, tilting, shouting, murmuring, wiggling and generally seeking out all sorts of noises to generate entirely strange sonic experiences.
The app is split in to several different ‘scenes’, which are in essence very simple iPhone apps, providing different ways to create and interact with a selection of bold new soundscapes. Each scene handles your input in a different way; for example, Gridwalker plays an evolving, twinkling 8-bit melody, depending on how loud or quiet your environment is, while WorldQuantizer grabs noises and recycles them in to an organic rhythmic groove. There’s also a record function enabling you to hang on to your favorite RjDj sessions for future listening.
Most exciting for burgeoning coders is the opportunity to create and submit your own scenes to be featured in future RjDj releases. The scenes are coded in an open source programming environment called Pure Data (PD). The really special thing about PD is that, unlike traditional text-based coding, it’s a visual modular language, meaning that creating a scene is somewhat like building a fairly complicated Lego model out of very sophisticated bricks. To the beginner it would take practice, but it’s certainly achievable (and a fun starting point leading to more advanced coding). If PD tickles your creative fancy, you can download it for free, right now.
With RjDj, you really get out of it what you put in — the packaged scenes seem to be most effective wandering around a city and hearing different sounds swirl about your ears, re-jigged by this smart little app. Effectively, RjDj is something incredibly clever masquearading as a bit of fun. And while it is indeed bags and bags of fun, if Reality Jockey develop the concept carefully, RjDj will become an effective sub-platform for distributing some of the most exciting experiences available on the iPhone.
Reality Jockey’s iPhone app certainly makes for weird listening, if you do download it leave a comment below describing your RjDj experiences.